The Academy Awards may have nominated more black performers than ever, but pointing out the racial divide -- both past and present -- was a running theme early in Sunday's ceremonies.

NASA pioneer Katherine Johnson, who was portrayed in "Hidden Figures," got a huge round of applause when she was wheeled out to help present the award for best documentary. Several of the stars in the audience wiped back tears as the 98-year-old physicist mustered up an emotional thanks for the ovation.

The winner in that category, "OJ: Made in America," came with a speech from co-director Ezra Edelman that referenced the number of racilly charged shootings that have taken place in the country since the film premiered.

He dedicated the win to the memories of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown, as well as victims of police violence and criminal injustice.

Then there was Viola Davis. Her win as best supporting actress for "Fences" was as close to a slam dunk as the Oscars get, but there was a bit of mystery as to what she would say at the podium. Somewhat surprisingly, she didn't mention race. Her powerful words stretched beyond the color of skin.

"I became an artist and thank God I did," she said, choking back tears. "It's the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here's to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people."